A couple days ago, it was “Hank Aaron Day,” around the MLB parks. It was a great tribute to a historical icon, seeing all the players wearing #42 on their backs. A few things stood out to me watching the games that day: The announcer mentioned that an unofficial record Hank Aaron set, that doesn’t get talked about much, was how many times a pitch was thrown at his head.
The other thing that struck me, was that while Hank admitted that he wouldn’t be able to hit today’s pitchers, he followed that up with the fact that it bugs the heck out of him to watch “sluggers” accept strikes, just because the pitch isn’t in the expected place, or at the expected velocity, or the correct angle. “Many batters have a rule not to even swing at the first pitch,” he said with incredulity. “Why the heck would you not want to swing at a good pitch.” “You only get 3 chances, you’re going to give one up?”
You could make the argument that “Bad Henry” doesn’t understand the modern-day mechanics of hitting, but guess what? Neither do 90% of the viewing public. Hank hit a nerve felt by most mortal baseball fans, when they watch their favorite slugger, eyeball 2 beautiful pitches, as they go right down the pipe, and then, swing at something 8 inches off the freaking plate. Are we supposed to feel stupid because we don’t understand why a batter didn’t swing at 2 gorgeous pitches, but eagerly swung at crap?
Yep… pitchers are amazing these days, compared to the good old days. Players are better athletes. Technology, integrated with training, has raised the level of play for everybody. But batting averages… they haven’t moved much at all. The batters these days, are replete with data on the pitcher and are now “analyzing” pitches, as they come in, waiting for THAT pitch.
Dear Mr. Professional Batter; As a fan, so ignorant of batting mechanics, that I shouldn’t even be allowed to watch the game; may I make a suggestion? That first pitch? Can you maybe, just for giggles, take a swing, while your analyzing?
Asking for a friend.